26 July, 2017, 12:00 am
DONORS and development partners need to make tourism a priority in their funding commitments to the Pacific in order for least developed countries to realize the potential for tourism offers.
South Pacific Tourism Organisation chief executive officer Chris Cocker made the statement in reaction to the release of a report on ‘Tourism for Sustainable Development in Least Developed Countries’ by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).
The report was launched at the Aid for Trade Review held in Geneva earlier this month.
A media release from SPTO said the report analysed 45 out of 48 Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies and recognised tourism as a key sector for development and trade-related technical assistance in LDCs.
It said the report aimed to increase the commitment and investment in co-ordination and raise tourism’s prominence in trade-related technical assistance to ensure the sector delivers on its powerful capacity to create jobs and incomes where they are most needed and for those who are most vulnerable —including youth and women.
“Tourism can make a strong contribution to the economies of least developed countries where the sector is a major exporter,” said Mr Cocker.
“The sector is recorded to have proven consistency in the past decade in being a strong performer generating economic growth, where other sectors like agriculture and manufacturing have performed much weaker.”
According to SPTO, tourism in the Pacific is employing local people including youth and women, sourcing from local farmers, fishermen, crafters and promoting creative industries to name a few.
The organisation said it acknowledged the importance of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 which the report was launched to coincide with.
Meanwhile, Mr Cocker said a few Pacific Island countries have mainstreamed sustainable tourism policies in their national planning strategies and donors and development partners have begun to assist in the implementation of sustainable tourism development projects and programs in PICs.
He said there were at least five LDCs within the region (Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu) and SPTO was working hard to ensure that tourism partners understood this commitment to sustainable tourism and were able to articulate what it means for them as partners in tourism development.